Working freelance often sounds like the dream. You’re able to determine your own hours, drink as much tea as you want, give yourself holidays and days off, take your job anywhere you want – and you’re doing something that, hopefully, you love. So, what’s the catch?
A freelance lifestyle can sometimes be quite difficult to maintain. It’s so easy to get swept up in a dangerous cycle of late nights burning the candle and lie-ins that last just that little too long. Living from invoice to invoice can be quite a big source of stress. Many people take up part-time jobs on the side, to make sure that they make rent. All of this can have take a significant toll on your mental health.
So how do you ensure you’re keeping yourself happy, healthy and motivated?
Below are some of my top tips for keeping up a well-balanced freelance lifestyle. Although some of these may seem blindingly obvious, sticking to a set of rules and routines will help keep you inspired in whatever you’re freelancing in.
1. Get up early
Making sure you get up early every morning (except, of course, the weekends) will keep you motivated right throughout the day – especially if you stick to a routine, and aim to wake up at roughly the same time every day. This can be really hard in the winter, when it’s dark outside and your bed just seems so much comfier than usual – but you’ll benefit from the extra time you give yourself in the morning. Stick on a pot of coffee, turn up the radio and get going.
2. Always get dressed
It sounds so simple, but avoiding trackies and pyjamas will make you feel way more professional. Everybody knows the age-old trick of sitting in your underwear for a Skype meeting – but try shoving some trousers on, too. It’ll also motivate you to go outside later on, if you need to take a break. You’ll feel like you’ve really earned it that evening when you go to crawl into your dressing gown after a hard day’s work.
3. Go outside
There’s a big, bright world out there. It’s easy to miss this if you’re trying to reach an important deadline, or have sucked yourself into a black hole of admin work. Make sure to step outside the house at least once a day – even if it’s just for a walk down to your local cafe for a coffee, or to the shops for some toilet roll. Exercise is so important for everyone, but especially for those who work primarily on computers. The more you move, the less restless you’ll be when it really counts. I’d really recommend yoga, or classes of some kind, which will give you an excuse to head out of the house.
4. Find a good workspace
Seeing as you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, you’d better make sure it’s a nice one! Make sure you have plenty of room to spread out and take notes. If you feel cramped up, you’ll start to feel claustrophobic, and you’ll become stressed more easily. Make sure there’s loads of natural light at your workspace. And make it personal, with flowers/candles/photos/etc. If you’re lucky enough to work from a home office, take the time to make it a nice space.
If you start to get cabin fever, why not try taking your laptop down to a local cafe? The change of scenery will motivate you, and increase your productivity.
5. Make time for yourself
Make sure that you take some time out every day to relax, and do the things you love. Try to finish each day at the same time, otherwise you might be tempted to just keep heading to the next stopping point. Your mental health and happiness will really benefit from a break. You could head out and see your friends, read a book, take a bath, do a face mask – anything is good, as long as it doesn’t involve a screen. After spending all day staring at your laptop, try to make sure that you put the technology away, at least for a little while every day.
6. Take regular breaks
It’s important to make sure that you give yourself a rest while you’re working, or you’ll start to slip up and make mistakes. Take twenty minutes every hour or so to just get up and stretch your legs – make yourself a cup of tea, maybe check your phone or do a few household chores. Just make sure to take a break from thinking about whatever project you happen to be working on.